DEAR MIKE: A good friend of mine has been working for a man who is very abusive to her; he seems to have a lot of anger issues. She was unemployed for more than a year before taking this job, so she is absolutely petrified of making waves and losing her job.
She and others tell me that he yells and screams at everyone in the company but is especially hostile toward her. He scribbles all over any work she gives him and then throws it at her. He screams so loudly that everyone in the building hears him.
She is constantly approached by others telling her how bad they feel about the way he treats her. She has tried to ask him what she is doing wrong but he refuses to tell her. He just keeps yelling and screaming that the work is not correct.
One big problem is that there is no place to go with this. The people in the human resources department and the rest of the company are afraid of him. They believe that if they go against him, they will lose their jobs.
This woman is a great worker. I have worked with her on previous jobs and witnessed how she is a stickler for detail, how she takes great pride in her work, how she always respects the person she works for. Now she is reduced to a bundle of nerves, crying all the time, unable to sleep at night. She is scared to death that if she does anything she will be out on the street.
I talked to her about going to a lawyer, but she says that is impossible because she is living from paycheck to paycheck now and she has no extra money. Do you have any suggestions as to what she might do? — Sharon
DEAR SHARON: First of all, no one should have to put up with the abuse that your friend is enduring. At the very least, this guy is creating an extremely hostile work environment.
He may also be guilty of assault and battery, because throwing things at someone, regardless of whether it’s paper or not, is a crime.
I would suggest that your friend document with dates and times, if possible, all the things that are happening to her. If she can safely get witness documentation, tell her to do so. Once she does that, I would suggest that she call the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) and file a complaint. Once an MCAD complaint is filed, it will be impossible for the employer to do anything against her.
I would also suggest that the next time he throws something at her, she should call the police and tell them she was assaulted by this man.
If he fires her for that, she should be able to collect unemployment while her case is being investigated by MCAD.
You did not say if this man was the owner of the company. It sounds like he is.
Regardless of that fact, he and the company have an obligation to keep a hostile-free work environment and it is against the law to abuse and harass employees. Good luck. — Mike
Michael Hayden is a certified anger management counselor who runs Bay State Anger Management and Counseling in Chelmsford. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 978-606-3955.